SpaceX already provides Starlink internet to over 145,000 users living in rural regions across 25 countries. The company is working to provide internet to more customers who pre-ordered the service. On Thursday, February 3, SpaceX launched another Starlink mission to expand internet service coverage. A previously-flown Falcon 9 lifted off a sixth time from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A), at the Kennedy Space Center, in Florida, carrying 49 Starlink satellites to Low Earth Orbit. It is the company’s 36th Starlink mission dedicated to building the broadband constellation. SpaceX is working to deploy Phase 1 of the constellation, the satellites in this batch belong to Starlink Group 4-7.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/MPL9JCBUbY— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 3, 2022
Approximately 9-minutes after lift off, the Falcon 9 first-stage booster identified as B1061-6 reentered Earth’s atmosphere and landed on the ‘A Shortfall of Gravitas’ autonomous drone ship around 654-kilometers downrange Florida’s coast. It marked the company’s 106th landing of an orbital-class rocket and the sixth landing for B1061-6. It previously supported the launch of two crewed missions to the International Space Station (ISS) that launched NASA astronauts, known as Crew-1 and Crew-2. And also launched SpaceX's 23rd Commercial Resupply Services mission to ISS (CRS-23), as well as SiriusXM's SXM-8 radio satellite, and NASA's Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) spacecraft.
100% record + dead centre babyyy 😎😎 pic.twitter.com/hhSxDMIc6W— A Shortfall Of Gravitas Droneship (@ASOGDrone) February 3, 2022
The 49 Starlink satellites were released by Falcon 9 upper-stage around an hour after lift off. The satellites in Starlink Group 4-7 will operate in the constellation’s Shell 4 that consists of arranging a total of 1,584 satellites into 72 orbital planes with 22 satellites in each plane operating at an equatorial inclination of 53.2° degrees and altitude of 540-kilometers (km). SpaceX has launched six missions into Shell 4, around 30 launches will be required to complete the orbital shell (see orbital parameter data shown below). The most recent satellite deployments into Shell 4 took place on January 6 and January 18.
Since 2019, SpaceX has launched a total number of 2,091 Starlink satellites to orbit that operate across different shells. According to astronomer data, around 1,920 of those are still in orbit as of today. SpaceX plans to deploy 4,400 satellites as part of Phase 1. All of the satellites deployed into Shell 4 feature laser-links that enable the satellites to beam data to each other and directly to user terminals on Earth. SpaceX founder Elon Musk shared that the inter-satellite communication laser links will be “active soon”. The satellites are moving into operational orbits which can take a couple of weeks.
This week, SpaceX released Starlink Premium – a high performance model of the Starlink antenna that provides twice as fast internet service for high-demand uses, like businesses. Read more: SpaceX releases Starlink Premium service with 'more than double the antenna capability'. The company is also working to increase standard user terminal production this year to fulfill global customer pre-orders. –“SpaceX standard antenna production rises rapidly this year, so those with orders shouldn’t have to wait long. Note, Starlink can only support a limited number of users in an area, so best to order early,” he announced via Twitter. The company has over half-a-million service pre-orders and is rapidly fulfilling on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis in regions where there is Starlink satellite coverage. For more information visit Starlink.com.
SpaceX standard antenna production rises rapidly this year, so those with orders shouldn’t have to wait long.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 2, 2022
Note, Starlink can only support a limited number of users in an area, so best to order early.
Featured Image Source: SpaceX
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.